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269

station man went back into the office, where now he could
stoke up the fire in the round-bellied iron stove, set his alarm
clock, and doze on a sagging cot until four o'clock. A voice
called, " All er-board," without emphasis. From the lighted
interiors of the coaches a few faces pressed against the glass
of the windows to peer out at the deserted platform. The
steam feathered whitely from the cylinders and the train
began to pull away. North of town it whistled again, and the
sound prolonged itself wailingly over the fields and the woods,
and was heard by wakeful persons in the bedrooms of houses
on that side of town.

Standing at the edge of a dry elder thicket that bordered
the lane just before it crossed the tracks, Doctor MacDonald
heard the approaching blast of the whistle. The long, glaring
beam of the headlight knifed through the dark, lighting
unreally the hanging leaves of bushes and the grass along the
tracks. Then the locomotive plunged over the crossing with
a multiple thunder of wheels, and as it passed, the figure of
the fireman was for a moment visible, bent to heave a shovel-
ful of coal into the firebox door. Then the last coaches
whipped past, the dry leaves along the track sank in the
failing gust of the passage, and the train fled away down the
tubular corridor of light before it. " On time," Doctor Mac-
Donald said, extinguished the match by which he had read
his watch, and clicked shut, with a gesture of finality, the
watchcase,

" She was on time," Doctor MacDonald repeated,

"The engineer," the man said, and nodded toward the
woods across the lane, " now I wonder could he see all them
fellers over there,"

" If he did," Doctor MacDonald replied, " he'll have some-
thing to tell his kids when he gets to Chicago tomorrow."
His eyes were fixed after the disappearing train. A pale,
flame-coloured reflection from the open firebox lightened the
billowy underside of the otherwise invisible plume of smoke
that trailed over the locomotive. The fireman would be
stoking for the cut northward.